In Melbourne, a city full of food and obsessed by coffee, I cook, I eat, I share the good news and the bad. essjay eats

Review: Parwana and Urban Bistro – Adelaide

Adelaide – Flying Visit

Guest reviewer (JB maybe?) made a flying visit to watch Cadel, Lance, Robbie, Stuie etc. (that would be the Tour DownUnder – ed) After a day chasing the peleton refuelling was a priority.

PARWANA – Afghan Restaurant – 124b Henley Beach Road Torrensville 08 8443 9001

Wikipedia advises that Parwana is an Urdu/Hindi word that refers to an obsessed lover – literally it is a term for a moth attracted to a flame. This moth was attracted twice –first for a quiet dinner on a Wednesday night with Adelaide-based Sis and second for food after Sunday afternoon drinks at the Union Hotel (City) and the Wheatsheaf Hotel (Thebarton) with Sis, Bro and SisiL.

Located between a funeral parlour, a hairdresser and an African Internet café, Parwana is a short taxi ride from the centre of Adelaide on the Western side of town (towards the airport). (gee – sounds promising – ed)

Parwana interior

Interior of Parwana

In two visits we sampled:

One Appetiser ($6 ea)

Mantu – steamed dumplings filled with onion delicately spiced and topped with yoghurt and ground lamb sauce;

Parwana - Mantu

Mantu - delicious lamby dumplings!

One Main ($15 ea)

Chopan Kebab – Marinated lamb pieces fried with onion and green chilli, served with naan, salad and chatni

4 Sides ($6-8 ea)

Chicken Qorma – Mild Chicken curry simmered with onion, tomato and traditional spices

Banjan Boranee – Eggplant simmered in tomato sauce, topped with yoghurt and mint garnish

Dahl – Red lentils flavoured with coconut, onion, curry leaves and spices

Sabzi – Spinach sautéed with paneer, onion and spices

2 Desserts ($5 ea)

Sheeryakh – creamy rose flavoured ice-cream with nuts

Falooda – Ice cream layered with saffron jelly, rose syrup and basil seeds

Parwana - Dessert

2 Drinks ($3 ea)

Cardamom tea

Dogh  – yoghurt, dried mint, cucumber and salt tastes

Everything was tasty and more-ish. The spices were handled well so that there was an immediate flavour effect without repetition hours or days later. My favourites were the Mantu, Sabzi and Banjan. Sheeryakh is a good simple dessert and saves a trip to North Adelaide for gelati. The mains include pasta (main course sizes of appetisers Ashak (leek in lamb sauce topped with yoghurt /mint) and Mantu (see above) and 3 rice options.  Servings are generous (shared appetiser and main plus a dessert each was more than enough for two on Wednesday) and alcohol is BYO (bottled wine only).  We had a riesling (Pewsey Vale) and shiraz (Pike’s?) on Sunday which went well after Sunday arvo beers.

Parwana is a very good family-run suburban restaurant offering well-prepared food in a relaxed atmosphere. It is great value for money and I would frequent it if it were in North Melbourne (would even go south of the river). Fortunately it is within a walk of Sis’s place so I will be getting back next time I am in Adelaide.

The Wheatsheaf (Wheatie to the locals) is a funky neighbourhood pub a couple of blocks back from Henley Beach Road (39 George St Thebarton) which would fit easily into Fitzroy, Brunswick or Northcote. It has an extensive selection of Australian and imported craft beers (on tap and by the bottle) and whisk(e)y. It provides hanging space for local artists – current exhibition is photographs of roller derby “Derby Stacks 09” by Matt Walker and features live music from time to time. Wheatsheaf only does cheese, pate and crisps but it is within walking distance of some ethnic food options on Henley Beach Road – Parwana (Afghan) and Terranova (Italian) are recommended but there is also Thai, Abyssinian, Indian, Thai, Greek, Chinese  and Oz pub grub available.

URBAN BISTRO – 160 Fullarton Road Rose Park 08 8331 2400

This is a reasonably up-market restaurant doing food that the Gourmet Traveller classifies as “Modern Australian”. It is located on the ground floor of an apartment block opposite Victoria Park race course which probably offers verdant views in winter but seemed dominated by pits, stands etc for forthcoming Brrm Brrms. It has been around since 2002 and seems to be well-regarded for food if not for its service. The room is pleasant if a bit soulless.

We visited on a Saturday for lunch when most of Adelaide was on Willunga Hill shouting “Go Cadel” and we had a large space more or less to ourselves.

We ordered a bottle of San Pellegrino Sparkling ($8) and couple of Trumer Pils ($9) while we perused the lunch/dinner menu, which is divided into: entree ($18-24); main course ($29-39);pasta and risotto ($26.50-35.50); and sides ($4.50 -$12.50).

The menu looked promising (see website) and after some toing and froing we opted to share a side of roast artichoke and parmesan dip and an entrée of maigret duck prosciutto with Persian feta, dry figs and fig vincotto .

Duck with Figs

Duck with Figs

For mains we ordered roast ocean trout wrapped in potato on nicoise salad, sauce gribiche and abalone ravioli with seared scallops, sweet potato and lime butter sauce.

Ocean Trout

Trout wrapped in potato

The food came promptly and was well-presented. The produce was of high quality and the combinations worked well. The roast artichoke dip was warm and unctuous, requiring extra bread to finish. The duck fig combination was very pleasant (the figs were fresh rather than dried which seems preferable).  The ravioli was very tender and tasty, the scallops perhaps slightly underdone but the lime butter and the sweet potato crisp were excellent. Ocean trout was well-prepared and presented but the gribiche combination not as successful .


abalone ravioli with seared scallops, sweet potato and lime butter sauce

We drank the 2008 Nigl Gruner Veltliner, Kremstal, Austria ($9) which was dry and round but not sweet or acidic. It was a good match with the food.

Lunch cost $150 with tip. The food quality and presentation would make Urban Bistro worth another visit.


One thought on “Review: Parwana and Urban Bistro – Adelaide

  • Hey JB! Hmm, the gribiche does look rather odd (as discussed in my post here). From what I understand, it is meant to be more vinaigrette. But the version above looks like a paste!

    Also, I don’t quite know how those cornichon-y, vinegary, eggy flavours would go with that tomato/olive nicoise salad, especially with the more delicate trout wrapped in potato. Seems kind of full on.

    But JB – very happy to see you posting on essjayeats! Look forward to more!

    Comment from: mellie

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